Finding (the real) Drogo

© 2011 Jeff Lynch

[Editor's note: Drogo was actually a not uncommon Norman name around the 10th century. The name is derived from the latin for 'dragon']

Being struck both happily and sadly depending on the mood, with the need to write about almost anything and everything, I write to tell you of the good fellow named Drogo. No, this is not the fictional one you already know of but another. A real fellow I mean. I do not know a great deal about him but all the same I pass it on to you.

I have been reading about Sicilia. Some of you may recall that I’ve pronounced that I have now developed the notion of going to that springboard of the at times nasty Mafiosa in the next spring. The spring of the Europeans that is. I’ve a passport to go to the village of Corleone….I think.

The Normans were busy around many parts of Europe in the Eleventh Century. Not only was William looking to unbuckle his sword around a place that they now call Battle these days, (it’s just outside of Hastings) but there were other stroppy Normans in the south of Italy too.

They had wrested territory from the Byzantines in places such as Calabria. But they must have been a restless bunch of pointy heads (their helmets made them that way), because a few of them went on a picnic lunch across the Straits of Messina.

That is to say, they ended up in Messina, on the ilse of Sicilia. They only stayed a few hours, thus the reference to a picnic, but some four years later they came back. And they came back to stay to convince the (mostly) Moorish Sicilians that they should be their bosses.

The Hautvilles came from Normandy….the de hautvilles if you like. Some of this family left for Italy. The Lord Tancred of Hautville had twelve sons…and some of these were the ones to travel to Italy. Two marriages are involved and it is from this first issue that our champion arrives.

In the 1030’s arrived William Ironarm, Drogo, Humphrey, Geoffrey (yay!) and Serlo. I have not made these names up they are mentioned by one François Neveux in his book (see below).

In the case of the second marriage the issue was Robert, nicknamed Guiscard (the Cunning), followed by Malger, William, Alfred, Hubert, Tancred and the youngest Roger.

Now the eldest son Robert Guiscard, arrived in Southern Italy about 1047 or 1048. At this time as I am told by François, our Drogo was now the boss of the Normans (presumably in Southern Italy).

There was a Prince of Salerno, (presumably the same place where the Allies landed during the good war). His name was Guiamar V. And I am also told that our Drogo ended up marrying a daughter of his….he fades from me.

A lot of these blokes had already caused to have built Motte and Bailey castles in various places in southern Italy. That was there style and their way….and that is the origin of the word moat!

They were serious contenders and the Byzantines were beaten back to a small strip of territory only. The invasion of Sicilia occurred between 1060 and 1091 and was led by Robert with his brother Roger. When Robert died quite young, Roger took command and so made a big name for himself as the Emperor of Sicilia.

And that it it! That is all that I know about that fellow Drogo…..son of Lord Tancred. That’s good isn’t it?


PS: my information comes from….A Brief History of the Normans by François Neveux: Constable and Robinson, 2006. 


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